"It shows that over 75 percent of children 2 to 19 are consuming fruits and vegetables on a given day," she said.
Taveras was surprised that vegetable consumption was higher than fruit intake. "I would take that with a little grain of salt," she said.
She said she suspected French fries boosted the rate of vegetable consumption.
Nielsen said about 50 to 60 percent of children ate starchy vegetables, including French fries, on a given day. However, she was pleased to see that about three-quarters of young people ate red and orange vegetables, such as carrots or bell peppers, on a given day.
The investigators found some differences among ethnic groups for fruits, but not for vegetables in general. On any given day, about 82 percent of black children ate fruit compared to three-quarters of whites.
One-fifth of black youths ate melon, citrus or berries in a 24-hour period, compared to one-third of whites and more than one-quarter of Hispanics, the findings revealed.
Taveras said looking at intake by income status would have provided additional valuable information. Lower-income families often have less access to fresh produce.
Another expert found the report encouraging. "While differences exist within age groups and ethnicity, the fact that kids consume produce is a good step," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.
Parents can next encourage variety and greater intake, Diekman said.
Here are three ways to do that, said Taveras: Make all snacks fruits or vegetables. Include fruits and vegetables as part of every meal. And start these practices early to shape children's taste preferences.
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